When Louis Herns ’81 donated a class ring to the Alumni Association for his daughter when she graduated, he knew he would do the same for his son

Ring Story: Louis Herns '81

“WHAT YOU DO FOR ONE CHILD, you have to do for the other,” Louis Herns ’81* said about his most recent gift to the Alumni Association. It wasn’t money or time but a class ring — the second one he’s donated. The first ring he donated was in honor of his daughter Abbie’s graduation in 2016, and the most recent ring was in honor of his son Patrick’s graduation in 2019.

The Alumni Association’s collection of Clemson class rings can be found in the alumni center on campus and includes rings from every year since the tradition began in 1896, relying on the generosity of alumni willing to contribute. Rings come in traditional and dinner ring styles and are often instantly recognizable between alumni.

For many alumni like the Hernses, the ring is a family tradition as much as it is a school tradition. Herns’s father, his wife, Robin, and his two children all went to Clemson. “It just seemed destined for [the kids] to go to Clemson since they went home in orange from the hospital,” Herns laughed. For him, donating the rings to the Alumni Association’s collection was a way to honor his family and the University at the same time.

“It takes a lot of hard work to earn the ring,” he said, “and it lets people that you meet see that you’re proud of your diploma, you’re proud of your education and you’re proud of your university.”

On the traditional ring, there’s a little-known inscription beneath the palmetto tree in the South Carolina coat of arms, a phrase that sums up what the ring really means to the Hernses and all of the other alumni who wear the ring: “Who shall separate us now?”